Just the Facts
Owner: Larry Olson
State: South Dakota
As early as 1939, GM designers were toying around with the idea of a fastback sedan, which they then dubbed the "Fleetline." And while clay models show the incorporation of a streamlined rear section was part of the original game plan, when the actual car debuted in 1941, it was what the manufacturer refers to as a "blind-quartered" Special DeLuxe Fleetline—in other words, a four-door sedan with a pronounced roof-to-trunk transition (lovingly referred to as a "German helmet" in lowrider circles). It wouldn't be until the following year that Chevrolet officially released the Fleetline as we know it today.
Unfortunately, the 1942 Fleetline Aerosedan's impact (as intended in full brightwork trim and full options) on America was extremely short lived, as the model year was terminated industry wide just one month into 1942, thanks to that not-so-little global conflict, otherwise known as World War II. By 1946, however, the Fleetline was back on showroom floors, and for the next three years, stayed true to its Aerosedan form with just minor facelifts to distinguish each model year (namely changes in grille features).
Come 1949, on the heels of Ford's introduction of its new slab-sided 1949 model year design in mid 1948, Chevrolet finally came out with an all-new body style, its first drastic platform upgrade since 1941. And with that, a brand-new Fleetline, as well as the reintroduction of the four-door namesake, was born. The series continued through 1952, when down to just the two-door sedan, the public apparently had fallen out of love with the streamlined machine, and thus, the Fleetline model would subsequently be discontinued.
While a majority of lowriders may be more partial to the unofficial "first-series" Fleetlines, it's the second incarnation of the fastback that most hot rodders favor, most notably the two-door sedans. As with the predecessors, they require little to no exterior modifications—their inherent streamline styling is literally spot on. A little lowering, the right wheel and tire combo, and a nice paintjob is really all it takes—though there's always room to take things to the next level.
Enter Bobby Alloway, who's known far and wide for taking things to that next level. For years, he had a pristine, all-original 1951 Fleetline at his shop in Louisville, Tennessee. On numerous occasions, he'd made mention to friend/customer Larry Olson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) how nice the old Chevy was. Well, one day, instead of agreeing, Larry decided to do the next best thing and buy the car (seeds successfully sewn). And during the following two years, Alloway and Larry collaborated ideas, ultimately producing one of the slickest Fleetlines to date.
As with many of his full builds, Alloway started the project out basing it on a complete Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) chassis in place of the potentially flimsy stock "top hat" foundation. The new roller features AME's proprietary tubular control arm IFS—coilover spring with Wilwood discs—and Currie 9-inch, also with coilovers as well as an AME four-link. To retain full suspension characteristics rather than compromise, Alloway laid the sedan body over its new chassis with raised, flat floors.
Those familiar with Alloway builds know, among other things, one of this calling cards is a healthy big-block. While the venerable Chevy W-block is not what automatically comes to mind, the larger of the two variable is, by cubic-inch parameters (409 in factory and aftermarket form), a "big" block. The V-8 nestled between the Fleetline's 'rails was machined and built by Mylon Keasler (Keasler Racing, Maryville, Tennessee). The engine has been outfitted with Edelbrock dual-quad induction, a custom-made exhaust by Barrillaro Speed Emporium (Knoxville, Tennessee) with Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers, Billet Specialties Tru Trac polished serpentine system, and pair of Moon no-name finned valve covers with matched, custom-machined air cleaner. A Tremec TKO 500 five-speed links the 409 to the 9-inch via a custom-made driveshaft. All of the brightwork was handled by Dan's Plating in Adamsville, Tennessee.
As for that factory stylized streamlined body, well, it did receive a fair share of alterations here and there, subtle as they may be. For instance, the hood spear flows uninterrupted by Bow Tie badge from front to back; all trim below the beltline has been removed, bumper bolts filled in, and rear license light/trunk latch shaved. When all that and the already-pristine body, as mentioned, was bodyworked to even further perfection by Alloway's Hot Rod Shop, Alloway and his crew followed with a flawless PPG black paintjob.
Earlier we mentioned Alloway trademarks. When it comes to rolling stock, he is known to rely on the old standby five-spoke … or these: namesake Billet Specialties ET-style bigs 'n' littles (17x7 and 20x10, respectively), wearing BFGoodrich performance radials. The larger windows of the polished wheels allow the larger-diameter (13-inch) Wilwood rotors and black four-piston calipers to clearly show through.
From Alloway's the 1951 to nearby Pro Auto, where Steve Holcomb did his thing with the interior. Using hides of black leather, his "thing" resulted in a very contemporary layout, which features stylized pleated accents, subtle silver piping, and Daytona weave black carpet. Rear seat and center console are custom; front bucket seats were borrowed from a '60s T-bird; the steering wheel is a '62 Impala. And if you look closely, notice that while the gauge cluster configuration remains stock, the instrumentation itself is anything but—thanks to Classic Instruments, who built a custom set of modern electronic gauges. And something that every enclosed car needs, cool climes and warm temps that come from the Vintage Air A/C and heating system.
With its debut at the 2013 SEMA Show out of the way, followed by a summer tour of events, about the only thing left to do on Larry Olson's Fleetline—spend some quality time behind that two-toned Impala wheel!
Nestled in their factory homes, re-faced and re-gutted (with all-new modern electronic ins
Topping an ididit tilt column is a two-toned ’62 Impala steering wheel—a possible nod towa
Black leather and Daytona weave carpet line the interior confines of Larry Olson’s ’51 Che